After kicking off the 2022-23 NBA regular season on opening night last night, the NBA on TNT crew is back for their weekly Thursday double-header.
In the 6:30 PM CT game, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks will suit up in hostile territory to begin their season against James Harden and the Philadelphia 76ers. Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and the reloaded Los Angeles Clippers will be out to prove they’re the ones who run LA in a 9:30 PM CT battle with LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers at Crypto.com Arena.
Here’s a look at the betting breakdown ahead of the first Thursday slate of the NBA season:
(As of 1 PM CT on Wednesday)
You can bet your favorite spread, moneyline, total or game prop over with our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Bucks (+4.0, +140 ML) at 76ers (-4.0, -165 ML) | Total: 225
Currently, Milwaukee +4 is receiving 52% of the overall betting handle (proportion of total money wagered), but 69% percent of the total bets placed according to VSiN.
This suggests the public is betting on the Bucks more than sharp, professional bettors are. Anytime you a higher bet percentage than handle percentage, it’s a sign that sharps are fading the public.
56% of the handle and 65% of the total wagers are on over 225, again suggesting that the smart money is on under in this matchup. After Philadelphia’s putrid defensive performance on Tuesday night — in which they allowed the Boston Celtics to connect on 34/47 (72.3%) of their 2-point shots — it’s easy to understand why the general public seems to think 225 is a bit low considering that same defense will have to find a way to stop Giannis inside.
The Picks: Sixers -4 | Over 225
Often times, getting a bad loss out of the way early can be a good thing. Just ask the Minnesota Timberwolves, who got one out of the way on Friday night to close out their preseason. While Philly’s defense left plenty to be desired in Boston, they started to figure out their offense in the second half. Expect Doc Rivers to involve Tyrese Maxey earlier in the game, Joel Embiid to take better care of the ball, and Harden to engage Embiid more in pick-and-roll in the half-court. I like the Sixers to bounce back at home against a Bucks team playing without Khris Middleton and Pat Connaughton.
Meanwile, the total DraftKings set is a bet that these teams’ offenses are rusty. These two teams played three times in the regular season last year, with all three matchups soaring over 225.5. The average total in those contests was 134.7.
Clippers (-5.0, -210 ML) at Lakers (+5.0, +180 ML) | Total: 222.5
While most fans expected the Lakers’ roster outside of James and Davis to be shoddy at best, seeing it action last night left a rather indelible impression on the minds of public and sharp bettors alike.
The Clippers are receiving 98% (!) of the handle on the spread, and 80% of the overall wagers, per VSiN. Not only does the public like the Kawhi/George/Wall trio, but pros are all over them.
Sharps are also leaning towards the under in this matchup; while only 26% of the total bets have been placed on the under here, it is receiving 48% of the overall handle. The Lakers shot 10/40 (25%) from 3 in their 123-109 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night, so this is a doubling down that the Clippers will dare the Purple and Gold to make their crosstown foes respect them from deep and stray from their (likely) plan of packing the paint and loading up on LeBron and AD.
The Picks: Clippers -5 | Over 225.5
Simply put, the Lakers are a god awful basketball team with no depth around their two stars. I get that the Clippers need time to gel, but even if they aren’t in rhythm, they should cruise to a double-digit victory. In the wake of the Warriors scoring 27 points off the Lakers’ 22 turnovers, I expect Tyronn Lue’s squad to feast off of turnovers once again, play in transition, and score a ton of easy points — leading us to over 225.5.
While not the most popular angle for basketball bettors to take, I find it much easier to find an advantage against sportsbooks when researching player props. With that in mind, let’s take a look at one pick for each game that stands out. You can view DraftKings Sportsbook’s player props for each game here.
Bucks at Sixers
The Pick: Joel Embiid over 26.5 points -105
Embiid continued his career-long domination against the Bucks last season. The runner-up in the 2022 MVP vote averaged 35.5 points, 14.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists in his two appearances against Milwaukee in 2021-22; that tracks with his career average of 28.0 points per game across his 12 career games against Giannis and Co., good for his ninth-best mark against any NBA team over his six-year career. Embiid scored 26 in his season debut, even with Harden dribbling the ball more times than all of his teammates combined. Expect Embiid to get up into the 30s if the ball moves more and Philly runs more PnR against Brook Lopez or Bobby Portis in space.
Clippers at Lakers
The Pick: LeBron James o5.5 assists -145
While Russell Westbrook is the “point guard” in the Lakers’ starting lineup, LeBron is the true lead playmaker. He creates the most open shots for his teammates on Rob Pelinka’s poorly constructed roster. He dropped eight dimes on opening night and, despite the -145 juice, is in line for a similar night given that he will be guarded by a combination of Leonard and George.